When Someone You Love has an Addiction

When Someone You Love Has an Addiction

The fallout from an addiction, for addicts and the people who love them, is devastating – the manipulations, the guilt, the destruction of relationships and the breakage of people. When addicts know they are loved by someone who is invested in them, they immediately have fuel for their addiction. Your love and your need to bring them safely through their addiction might see you giving money you can’t afford, saying yes when that yes will destroy you, lying to protect them, and having your body turn cold with fear from the midnight ring of the phone. You dread seeing them and you need to see them, all at once. 

You might stop liking them, but you don’t stop loving them. If you’re waiting for the addict to stop the insanity – the guilt trips, the lying, the manipulation – it’s not going to happen. If you can’t say no to the manipulations of their addiction in your unaddicted state, know that they won’t say no from their addicted one. Not because they won’t, but because they can’t. 

If you love an addict, it will be a long and excruciating road before you realise that there is absolutely nothing you can do. It will come when you’re exhausted, heartbroken, and when you feel the pain of their self-destruction pressing relentlessly and permanently against you. The relationships and the world around you will start to break, and you’ll cut yourself on the jagged pieces.  That’s when you’ll know, from the deepest and purest part of you, that you just can’t live like this any more.  

I’ve worked with plenty of addicts, but the words in this post come from loving one. I have someone in my life who has been addicted to various substances. It’s been heartbreaking to watch. It’s been even more heartbreaking to watch the effect on the people I love who are closer to him than I am.

I would be lying if I said that my compassion has been undying. It hasn’t. It’s been exhausted and stripped back to bare. I feel regularly as though I have nothing left to give him. What I’ve learned, after many years, is that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change him. With all of our combined wisdom, strength, love and unfailing will to make things better for him, there is nothing we can do. 

I realised a while ago that I couldn’t ride in the passenger seat with someone at the wheel who was on such a relentless path to self-destruction. It’s taken many years, a lot of sadness, and a lot of collateral damage to people, relationships and lives outside of his.

What I do know is that when he is ready to change direction, I’ll be there, with love, compassion and a fierce commitment to stand beside him in whatever way he needs to support his recovery. He will have an army of people behind him and beside him when he makes the decision, but until then, I and others who love him are powerless. I know that.

Nobody intends for a behaviour to become an addiction, and if you are someone who loves an addict – whether it’s a parent, child, partner, friend, sibling – the guilt, the shame and the helplessness can be overwhelming. 

Addiction is not a disease of character, personality, spirit or circumstance. It can happen to anyone. It’s a human condition with human consequences, and being that we’re all human, we’re all vulnerable. Addicts can come from any life and from any family. It’s likely that in our lifetime, if we don’t love someone with an addiction, we’ll know someone who does, so this is an important conversation to have, for all of us. 

The problem with loving an addict is that sometimes the things that will help them are the things that would seem hurtful, cold and cruel if they were done in response to non-addicts. Often, the best ways to respond to an addict have the breathtaking capacity to drown those who love them with guilt, grief, self-doubt and of course, resistance.

Loving an addict in any capacity can be one of the loneliest places in the world. It’s easy to feel judged for withdrawing support for the addict, but eventually, this becomes the only possible response. Unless someone has been in battle armour beside you, fighting the fight, being brought to their knees, with their heart-broken and their will tested, it’s not for them to judge. 

The more we can talk about openly about addiction, the more we can lift the shame, guilt, grief and unyielding self-doubt that often stands in the way of being able to respond to an addict in a way that supports their healing, rather than their addiction. It’s by talking that we give each other permission to feel what we feel, love who we love, and be who we are, with the vulnerabilities, frayed edges, courage and wisdom that are all a part of being human.

When Someone You Love is an Addict.

  1. You’re dealing with someone different now. 

    When an addiction takes hold, the person you love disappears, at least until the addiction loosens its grip. The person you love is still in there somewhere, but that’s not who you’re dealing with. The person you remember may have been warm, funny, generous, wise, strong – so many wonderful things – but addiction changes people. It takes a while to adjust to this reality and it’s very normal to respond to the addicted person as though he or she is the person you remember. This is what makes it so easy to fall for the manipulations, the lies and the betrayal – over and over. You’re responding to the person you remember – but this is not that person. The sooner you’re able to accept this, the sooner you can start working for the person you love and remember, which will mean doing what sometimes feels cruel, and always heartbreaking, so the addiction is starved of the power to keep that person away. The person you love is in there – support that person, not the addict in front of you. The sooner you’re able to stop falling for the manipulations, lies, shame and guilt that feeds their addiction, the more likely it will be that the person you remember will be able to find the way back to you.

  2. Don’t expect them to be on your logic.

    When an addiction takes hold, the person’s reality becomes distorted by that addiction. Understand that you can’t reason with them or talk them into seeing things the way you do. For them, their lies don’t feel like lies. Their betrayal doesn’t feel like betrayal. Their self-destruction doesn’t always feel like self-destruction. It feels like survival. Change will come when there is absolutely no other option but to change, not when you’re able to find the switch by giving them enough information or logic.

  3. When you’re protecting them from their own pain, you’re standing in the way of their reason to stop.

    Addicts will do anything to feed their addiction because when the addiction isn’t there, the emotional pain that fills the space is greater. People will only change when what they are doing causes them enough pain, that changing is a better option than staying the same. That’s not just for addicts, that’s for all of us. We often avoid change – relationships, jobs, habits – until we’ve felt enough discomfort with the old situation, to open up to a different option.

    Change happens when the force for change is greater than the force to stay the same. Until the pain of the addiction outweighs the emotional pain that drives the addiction, there will be no change. 

    When you do something that makes their addictive behaviour easier, or protects them from the pain of their addiction – perhaps by loaning them money, lying for them, driving them around – you’re stopping them from reaching the point where they feel enough pain that letting go of the addiction is a better option. Don’t minimise the addiction, ignore it, make excuses for it or cover it up. Love them, but don’t stand in the way of their healing by protecting them from the pain of their addiction. 

  4. There’s a different way to love an addict.

    When you love them the way you loved them before the addiction, you can end up supporting the addiction, not the person. Strong boundaries are important for both of you. The boundaries you once had might find you innocently doing things that make it easier for the addiction to continue. It’s okay to say no to things you might have once agreed to – in fact, it’s vital – and is often one of the most loving things you can do. If it’s difficult, have an anchor – a phrase or an image to remind you of why your ‘no’ is so important. If you feel as though saying no puts you in danger, the addiction has firmly embedded itself into the life of the person you love. In these circumstances, be open to the possibility that you may need professional support to help you to stay safe, perhaps by stopping contact. Keeping a distance between you both is no reflection on how much love and commitment you feel to the person, and all about keeping you both safe.

  5. Your boundaries – they’re important for both of you.

    If you love an addict, your boundaries will often have to be stronger and higher than they are with other people in your life. It’s easy to feel shame and guilt around this, but know that your boundaries are important because they’ll be working hard for both of you. Setting boundaries will help you to see things more clearly from all angles because you won’t be as blinded by the mess or as willing to see things through the addict’s eyes – a view that often involves entitlement, hopelessness, and believing in the validity of his or her manipulative behaviour. Set your boundaries lovingly and as often as you need to. Be clear about the consequences of violating the boundaries and make sure you follow through, otherwise it’s confusing for the addict and unfair for everyone. Pretending that your boundaries aren’t important will see the addict’s behaviour get worse as your boundaries get thinner. In the end this will only hurt both of you.

  6. You can’t fix them, and it’s important for everyone that you stop trying.

    The addict and what they do are completely beyond your control. They always will be. An addiction is all-consuming and it distorts reality. Know the difference between what you can change (you, the way you think, the things you do) and what you can’t change (anyone else). There will be a strength that comes from this, but believing this will take time, and that’s okay. If you love someone who has an addiction, know that their stopping isn’t just a matter of wanting to. Let go of needing to fix them or change them and release them with love, for your sake and for theirs.

  7. See the reality.

    When fear becomes overwhelming, denial is a really normal way to protect yourself from a painful reality. It’s easier to pretend that everything is okay, but this will only allow the addictive behaviour to bury itself in deeper. Take notice if you are being asked to provide money, emotional resources, time, babysitting – anything more than feels comfortable. Take notice also of the  feeling, however faint, that something isn’t right. Feelings are powerful, and will generally try to alert us when something isn’t right, long before our minds are willing to listen. 

  8. Don’t do things that keep their addiction alive.

    When you love an addict all sorts of boundaries and conventions get blurred. Know the difference between helping and enabling. Helping takes into account the long-term effects, benefits and consequences. Enabling is about providing immediate relief, and overlooks the long-term damage that might come with that short-term relief. Providing money, accommodation, dropping healthy boundaries to accommodate the addict – these are all completely understandable when it comes to looking after someone you love, but with someone who has an addiction, it’s helping to keep the addiction alive. 

    Ordinarily, it’s normal to help out the people we love when they need it, but there’s a difference between helping and enabling. Helping supports the person. Enabling supports the addiction. 

    Be as honest as you can about the impact of your choices. This is so difficult – I know how difficult this is, but when you change what you do, the addict will also have to change what he or she does to accommodate those changes. This will most likely spin you into guilt, but let the addicted one know that when he or she decides to do things differently, you’ll be the first one there and your arms will be open, and that you love them as much as you ever have. You will likely hear that you’re not believed, but this is designed to refuel your enabling behaviour. Receive what they are saying, be saddened by it and feel guilty if you want to – but for their sake, don’t change your decision.

  9. Don’t buy into their view of themselves.

    Addicts will believe with every part of their being that they can’t exist without their addiction. Don’t buy into it. They can be whole without their addiction but they won’t believe it, so you’ll have to believe it enough for both of you. You might have to accept that they aren’t ready to move towards that yet, and that’s okay, but in the meantime don’t actively support their view of themselves as having no option but to surrender fully to their addiction. Every time you do something that supports their addiction, you’re communicating your lack of faith in their capacity to live without it. Let that be an anchor that keeps your boundaries strong. 

  10. When you stand your ground, things might get worse before they get better.

    The more you allow yourself to be manipulated, the more you will be manipulated. When you stand your ground and stop giving in to the manipulation, the maniplulation may get worse before it stops. When something that has always worked stops working, it’s human nature to do it more. Don’t give into to the lying, blaming or guilt-tripping. They may withdraw, rage, become deeply sad or develop pain or illness. They’ll stop when they realise your resolve, but you’ll need to be the first one to decide that what they’re doing won’t work any more.

  11. You and self-love. It’s a necessity. 

    In the same way that it’s the addict’s responsibility to identify their needs and meet them in safe and fulfilling ways, it’s also your responsibility to identify and meet your own. Otherwise you will be drained and damaged – emotionally, physically and spiritually, and that’s not good for anyone.

  12. What are you getting out of it?

    This is such a hard question, and will take an open, brave heart to explore it. Addicts use addictive behaviours to stop from feeling pain. Understandably, the people who love them often use enabling behaviours to also stop from feeling pain. Loving an addict is heartbreaking. Helping the person can be a way to ease your own pain and can feel like a way to extend love to someone you’re desperate to reach. It can also be a way to compensate for the bad feelings you might feel towards the person for the pain they cause you. This is all really normal, but it’s important to explore how you might be unwittingly contributing to the problem. Be honest, and be ready for difficult things to come up. Do it with a trusted person or a counsellor if you need the support. It might be one of the most important things you can do for the addict. Think about what you imagine will happen if you stop doing what you’re doing for them. Then think about what will happen if you don’t. What you’re doing might save the person in the short-term, but the more intense the addictive behaviour, the more destructive the ultimate consequences of that behaviour if it’s allowed to continue. You can’t stop it continuing, but you can stop contributing to it. Be willing to look at what you’re doing with an open heart, and be brave enough to challenge yourself on whatever you might be doing that’s keeping the addiction alive. The easier you make it for them to maintain their addiction, the easier it is for them to maintain their addiction. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.

  13. What changes do you need to make in your own life?

    Focusing on an addict is likely to mean that the focus on your own life has been turned down – a lot. Sometimes, focusing on the addict is a way to avoid the pain of dealing with other issues that have the capacity to hurt you. When you explore this, be kind to yourself, otherwise the temptation will be to continue to blunt the reality. Be brave, and be gentle and rebuild your sense of self, your boundaries and your life. You can’t expect the addict in your life to deal with their issues, heal, and make the immensely brave move towards building a healthy life if you are unwilling to do that for yourself.

  14. Don’t blame the addict.

    The addict might deserve a lot of the blame, but blame will keep you angry, hurt and powerless. Addiction is already heavily steeped in shame. It’s the fuel that started it and it’s the fuel that will keep it going. Be careful you’re not contributing to keeping the shame fire lit.

  15. Be patient.

    Go for progress, not perfection. There will be forward steps and plenty of backward ones too.  Don’t see a backward step as failure. It’s not. Recovery never happens in a neat forward line and backward steps are all part of the process.

  16. Sometimes the only choice is to let go.

    Sometimes all the love in the world isn’t enough. Loving someone with an addiction can tear at the seams of your soul. It can feel that painful. If you’ve never been through it, letting go of someone you love deeply, might seem unfathomable but if you’re nearing that point, you’ll know the desperation and the depth of raw pain that can drive such an impossible decision. If you need to let go, know that this is okay. Sometimes it’s the only option. Letting go of someone doesn’t mean you stop loving them – it never means that. You can still leave the way open if you want to. Even at their most desperate, most ruined, most pitiful point, let them know that you believe in them and that you’ll be there when they’re ready to do something different. This will leave the way open, but will put the responsibility for their healing in their hands, which is the only place for it to be.

And finally …

Let them know that you love them and have always loved them – whether they believe it or not. Saying it is as much for you as it is for them. 

343 Comments

Curt

It breaks my heart. It just breaks my heart. My addict is in recovery now, and I want to be happy, but I’m wrecked. I’m gonna need a lot of work to get better. I’m gonna go to my Nar-anon group now, but I know I need therapy and a psychiatrist. I had my own mental health issues before this, but they’ve just gotten so much worse. I can’t believe what this does to people. Stay strong and get help. There are so many of us out there. Just know you’re not alone.

Reply
Eve

Hi
I never really ever thought I would call my daughter an addict. She is 41 and was an amazing and very beautiful caring fun child and young woman.At 18 she lost a baby which I feel was the catalyst for her future drug use which became more serious after 32
She no longer resembles the daughter i once knew…I have been to hell and back and admit there have been times when I have enabled her…not with money but will take her food etc…is that wrong??
where did she go??? her addiction is to meth….my own fear has always been that she will die …its also selfish probably as that isn’t something I feel strong enough to ever endure…she is soooo loved.
She has cut herself/ had numerous overdoses/ been suicidal/police checks/ambulances/ major dental issues/ no work…currently she has a bf who is an addict with schizophrenia who hits her…this is new !..
and I can’t do anything…it hurts.
I’m trying hard to not check on her as I was doing this daily…now its once a week.She always tells me she loves me .shes is in such a low place…how can I be less close to her? I miss her
At my last visit she told me its only fortnightly usage now and was telling me how far her bf had come .She shares everything with me but being late 60s I’m not sure i should know more about meth addiction than anyone else my age!..I refuse to go inside her place because I won’t tolerate men who beat up on women..ever…
before meeting him she was suicidal and said things like” Mum, wouldn’t it be better for someone who wanted to be alive to have my organs??” then….” there’s only one reason I won’t do it and that’s you…I know it’d kill you.”
Anyone got some good advice? This year she has deteriorated and has seemed to lose all logic …I feel like it has affected her capacity ( hugely) to THINK…she is lost.
It can be scary to hurt so bad. I know she is an adult now . I’m trying to keep my.life in some form of order and take some part time work etc
Her ability to bounce back as she has managed in the past seems less likely and I have this utter dread of seeing police at my door or being called from hospital.
I would love anyone with any good advice to reply.
Thanks

Reply
Louisa

Not really sure where to start.. when I met mt boyfriend nearly 2 years ago he seemed like the perfect man. He was outgoing, funny, gorgeous and loved ME. He got on with my friends and family I was so happy.

A few things didn’t really amount up as he started disappearing when we first met. Some excuse that he went up north and forgot his phone.. then he stopped speaking for another week and said his work friend had passed away and wasn’t feeling too great. I started to wonder if he wasn’t interested in me or worse off had a girlfriend.

Then he introduced me to his mum qnd then not long after asked me to be his girlfriend! Things were amazing and then I noticed he liked to do gear at parties and when I would tell him ‘thats enough’ he was fine with at first but then he started going out and getting more whilst I was asleep or wanting to get it every weekend when we had a drink. This is when I realised he had a problem. He then started persuading me to do it with him.. occasionally I agreed just to shut him up but then I realised, im just making things worse.

Things kind of got better for a few months and the relationship was good. We put everything behind us and he moved in. As soon as he moved in, was when it got worse. He stole money from me in the night and was doing coke whilst i was asleep, he would dissappear out for hours whilst i was crying and ringing him begging to come home.. the only time he would answer was when he needed money or was stranded. Half the time I didnt know if it was the truth as he wouldn’t stop ringing and i wanted so much for him to just stop! I didnt know if he was dead or alive! When I went on works events he would call me up and ring me for money , then made me feel like I made him worried and it made him do it.

Our first christmas he disappeared on christmas eve, done it and done it right through to boxing day. The first time I was due to meet his dad I was getting my nails done and when I finished he picked me up in my car and was using… at 11am?!

He had lost his job and now was depending on me.. I made excuses up for how maybe I made him that way for being angry at him, maybe I made him depressed and that’s why he feels the need to use? Is he unhappy in our relationship? I thought of every excuse in the book and asked myself why would you CHOSE to do this to someone who loves you so much?! Why doesn’t he CARE how I feel? I would never do this to someone.. I felt like maybe he was with me for somewhere to live as I soon found out from his mum that his addiction had stemmed from over 13 years ago. She infact had kicked him out which I didnt even realise… how was I so blind to not realise what was going on in front of me.. or did I chose to ignore it because I thought I found the man of my dreams?

Was I too scared to tell others that I was with an addict and that I can’t bring him out no more because of the drugs he might take from someone. I ended up telling my friends why I wasn’t going out no more and why I was so quiet all the time.. I pushed my friends away and my boyfriend kept using, I kept crying and he kept saying sorry. This happened every month for another 6 months. I called the dealers numbers and got them to block him on their phone but he would buy sim cards and start ringing them off of it. I reported the dealers to the police but the numbers are still in use! The real problem was when he asked me to look after his money so he wouldn’t spend it but I ended up giving in because he wouldn’t stop harassing me, he looked desperate and it made me so sad.

Another day he disappeared again, I cried, I rang, I turned my phone off and I said.. thats it. He turned up at my door at 2am, I said go to sleep and we will talk in the morning. I was due to go out to an appointment in the morning and I noticed he was drinking.. he was throwing up and I thought oh this is another plan for you to try and worm your way back in. I came back and the paramedics were there.. I still didn’t believe him.. I thought he was lying! This is how much he lied to me and how good he was at lying that I didn’t believe my own boyfriend was actually in pain. Guilt hit me hard when I found out that he had an emergency operation to have his bowel removed. I cried again, I was up all night wondering if he was OK, I forgot everything he had done and I just wanted him to feel better and be OK. He was in hospital for 2 weeks and I told him that it would be best for him to recover and his mums. I didnt feel it was right for me to pick up the pieces after what had happened.

After being at his mums for just 2 weeks, he managed to persuade me to come back home. The relationship was alright when he came out he was clean.. he had lost lots of weight but he body was drained of any drug from his body. He seemed positive and I thought… maybe he’s hit rock bottom and after the op he’s realised that he’s killing off his body.. oh boy I was wrong. The night before I was due to see my friends he disappeared and I couldn’t believe it. By now I stopped crying, I stopped worrying I was full of dissapointment.. I went out wirh my friends and turned my phone off so that he would stop ringing for money. In the morning I received a horrible call from his mum that he was in hospital and tried cutting himself. We then made a decision that he would go and live back with his mum full time and I said I would support him from home and give him the time he needed to focus on himself. He found a great group called cocain anonymous which kept him clean for 2 months, he was really excited about it at first and I really believed this would help him to recover.

He’s relapsed 3 times since then and that brings us to now. He relapsed last on 22nd December and made excuses and lies to what he was doing, he spent a few days on and off coming back.. wanting money to pay off debts, stealing money out my savings jar and said he ‘borrowed it.. in desperate hope to find out what was going on in his head, I read some of the work and letters he wrote during his recovery and I read that he had sold the watch I bought him last year for Xmas for drugs! He then came back Xmas morning at 2am and i spent my Xmas morning in tears, sat round his family opening presents when I could tell he wasn’t interested..I ask myself what was the reason this time? I’ve learned to realise that there never is a reason or a ‘trigger’.. its money to fuel his high.. he always says why would I want to do this to myself?.. I don’t know. Why would you?

I went to my mums on Xmas day when we were supposed to go together.. I took his work phone and all his keys so he couldn’t drive anywhere.. New years he was still getting over the massive bender he was on and being in lockdown it was just us to so I wanted to make the most of it but he was just tired. Roll on to today, we were out getting something from the shops and he said he had a call from his boss and he was concerned, rushed back home and said his boss asked him to work and that he was the only person who could do it and wasn’t very fair his boss was putting it on him like that.. but he said that’s all in the contract! Anyway he left at 4pm today and it’s now 1am.. he hasnt contacted anyone and I realised he took my Xmas money from my drawer which he probablynwill say he borrowed too..

I just dont know how much more I can take of all these lies… when he’s sober and straight he loves me so much but I always question that he’s such a good liar is his love for me real? If its so real then why does he continue to drag someone down so much after everything they’ve done for them.

Reply
Alice

Hi there,

I was in a relationship with an coke addict for 8 years. Your story seemed to really resemble mine and I hope by now you have found peace. My ex would do the same, lie and sneak around. When we lived together he was using almost every other day. The sound of him walking around and blowing his nose really haunts me. I’ve kicked him out about 3 months ago, and have decided that the best thing to do was cut off all contact. Trust me, it’s not easy, and believe me I cry almost everyday. The thought of our love story being taken away because of a substance really just stabs my heart. I am in the grieving phase but know ultimately it’s time to let him learn about consequences. No matter how hard it is, no matter the endless emails of guilt trips he sends me, I have to set a firm boundary. I often just think of his potential, and how great he was. But addiction really is a terrible disease and I hope you are able to walk away, and take care of yourself mentally and physically. I feel your pain, and hope in a few months I can come back and update this post with not heartache but an update about self love and respect. Best wishes to you

Reply
Tara

When he is good to you and living to you it is called lovebombing. To make you question your own self. You star doubting what you know. This puts you in cognitive dissonance from all the gaslighting. I lived this life for 13 years. My drug addict was a narcissist. Blame shifting, games, manipulation. They have to live bomb you to confuse you so u keep staying. Get out of this cycle before you waste your life. It will never change till they have to. They live in denial. You are becoming codependent on him. I myself are codependent. The last thing my ex said to me before he blocked me and gave me the silent treatment for 3 months was “if I’m so bad then why do you want me” he left me and would always come back for his drug supply but he had to keep me believing he loved me to keep his foot in the door. Don’t do this to yourself. You are worth more than this. You have a life to. It is just as important as his.

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Amy

Thank you for the article. I have recently ended my 4 years relationship with the person I viewed was the love of my life. He was everything I wanted. He’s always liked drugs and as long as he was honest with me didn’t hide it or touch one of the hardest drugs to come back from I didn’t mind. Then that drug happened and he told me straight away. I was so disappointed, to have the intention of doing that drug is one thing but to actually do it know how I felt about it was completely disrespectful but I let it slide. 2.5 years later after being a full blown addict I walked away moving to a different town, eventually we got back together and now 18 months on I have completely ended it for me. The disrespect he showed towards me and my house after supporting him and his daughter in every way I work full time and come home to strange people in my house again that leave as soon as I get home? I just couldn’t do it anymore. I stopped my life for this amazing man I wanted nothing but the best for only for his addiction to continuously disrespect me my safety my boundaries my home. Addiction is the hardest with you deal with for anyone especially addicts be we also have to have the respect for ourselves to know when enough is enough. I will always love the man I fell in love with and for allowing his child to be such a huge part of my life but not I need support I pushed everyone away for him and I have been left along and behind to pick up the pieces. I still have myself my goals and dreams and that’s what keeps me focused. Dealing with this isn’t going to be easy but it will be worth it when I find myself again.

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Emmcee

thankyou so much for this. i’ve experienced everything for loving an addict. I’ve lost myself over and over again , hoping that he’s gonna changed . but it’s been two years and its still the same and its getting worst. I loved him so much ,its really hard, but I can’t keep him manipulating me . its sad.. I know I need to let him go, but my heart says no..I should stop communicating with him , he doesnt care about me anymore and his kid. He didnt even come home anymore. I hope one day he realize everything. 😢

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Catherine

So true. Too late for me though. Wish I didn’t try to help my son with rides and managing his money. I was an enabler for many years and he overdosed at age 50. Wish I knew then what I know now. Hope your article helps others.

Reply
H

I’m so sorry for your loss… Truly. Addiction is a beast, it holds no prejudice against anyone: destroys as much as one is willing to surrender to it.. Never intentionally, nievely under the impression that this beast is capable of grace. It is not. Prayers to you, hope you find peace & comfort in your heart 🤍

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Pablo

This is a great article.
I ended a new relationship after 3 months. The signs were there, I ignored them at first but realised I was losing myself. I ignored my gut until one morning I had a dream about an ex-colleague who died from cancer. She denied her smoking was making her ill.

I feel guilt, anger, love and passion for this person. I have had no contact for three weeks and it feels like withdrawal. You become addicted, you start living the lie, it entrances you, takes over your thoughts and feelings. I empathised, I fell in but managed to get out before I became entrenched and drowned. My gf is a highly paid professional (I wonder if it’s true), living a lie. It is all a lie, they are dishonest with themselves, the pain is to great to confront. They will continue to kill themselves than face their fears, pain, shame and guilt.

The desire to change has to be greater than the continuance of the behaviour. There has has to be more at stake staying the same than changing. I never thought that at 53, as a counsellor I would be manipulated, hypnotised and mesmerised.
I woke up, it was a close escape, however, I have used this experience to resolve my own inner pain and started a journey of healing my own wounds. I hope all of you people out there find peace and serenity and make a decision that ultimately is of benefit to you. My advice, work on your self-esteem, work on loving you and those affected by the addicts behaviour. It is like grief, ambiguous grief – the person is still alive but, there isnt a fully alive person there. They are unfortunately, comfortably numb and thats what they value.

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P.S.

This article on loving a person with an addiction is just what I needed to hear, in the place of such brokenness and heartache. Thank you for sharing this wonderful insight.

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Kirsti

I have stumbled across this article and thankfully so, after yet another sleepless night wondering where my husband is, will he come home? Is he alive etc..? After reading this, I have realised that I do too much for him, I enable him, I protect him from all the destruction his addiction leaves behind, I pick up all the pieces, I try and shield the family from the destruction, and I am finally at the end of my tether. I have nothing left emotionally or financially. I used to think, if he sees how much I love him then that will be enough, if I don’t sort this mess out something bad will happen, but how wrong and naïve was I. Now 12 years on and I am a shell of the woman I once was, I get blamed for his drug use ‘I make him feel like s**t for what he has done’ and ‘No wonder he goes off for days on a bender when he lives with someone like me’ the list goes on and on. I don’t even know how I am not ready to leave him yet, but I just can’t, so now I am hoping to find the help I need for myself to either get me to a place where I can detach myself from him. Maybe in doing that there may be a light at the end of this very long, dark tunnel, if not for him then for myself.

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Jennifer

I’ve been with my bf for 2.5 years but we have been long distance for a little over a year. The plan was that he would be to be with me, we had all these plans. On every occasion that he was supposed to move, something would come up to delay the move. I would see him about every month to 6 weeks for a few days. And we talk and text every day. This distance is way harder of me than him. He started having anxiety and panic attacks about 9 months ago and sought treatment but the doctors just pushed pills. He still takes an anti-anxiety medication when he has a panic attack which are quite frequent. Since we don’t live together he’s been hiding his drinking for some time. When we are together we do have some drinks but not excessive. His latest plan to move was this past Monday, and Sunday he called and out of the blue got mad and broke up with me and confessed his drinking problem. He wants to go to rehab and get clean which is great and he has started the steps to make this happen. What I don’t understand is why I am his partner in life and he breaks up with me. He can’t really tell me why he suddenly made that choice but it’s due to the addiction. He wants to make it clear to me that I have don’t nothing wrong in all this, he has demons that he needs to face. I agree and I told him that I am going to support him through the process. At first we was very distant and now we are able to have honest conversation but he still wants to not be in a relationship other than best friends. This article is really helpful for me to learn how to love and support him the right way and not enable him or cause more stress and in turn make him drink more. I think that I definitely need to try a meeting and be able to talk to others that may have already been through it have helpful tips on what to do and what things I need to stop doing.

I feel so completely lost in this whole process. I agree that I fell in love with a different person that he is now and I keep thinking he’s the same person and he is not. I pray that we have a great future together but the first step is his treatment and the fact that he is the one that wants to go and has already started the process is a great thing. I get to avoid the hard part of convincing him he needs some help. So I am hopeful for him and need to learn how to love him the right way in the process without completely losing myself in the process.

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Kim

Wishing you well. I have been there before and recently too. Be strong like very strong be prepared like your going out into the woods of Alaska because things may take many turns and I don’t want that to break your heart I need you to know if your this war battle with your significant other make sure you understand the war this is and be positive but lots of boom but candles take deep breaths make sure you get sunlight on your face every day Atleast for 10 minutes. Hang tight my prayers are with you and k hope god can make a miracle for you. Stay strong…….. you need to have a back up plan without him needing to know about it, you need to plan ahead for worse to come you will need to remove yourself completely during a relapse. And if that doesn’t prove to you that there’s nothing you can possibly do to change him then maybe taking time away from him and letting him run loose if that’s what he wants. You need to take yourself back and take control. Your loosing yourself trying to save someone else who will be lost for a long while. It happy to me and currently. You still got this chance woman! You can do it! Grab those ovaries like a woman and give him the tough love and move forward day to day. I pray for you and prayer works I hope things turn out better than you expect and I got god has some miracles set up for you guys and your family!!

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Cali

There are other support groups that encourage the family to step in and even force the user or addict to go to rehab. The sooner the better. The longer you leave it, the more damage done. I don’t know what to do.
About a decade ago my sister got involved with a meth addict. She always expressed loathing for his addiction and said he was awful to her when he was binging, and she got him to give up for seven years and they got married. Shortly after, he relapsed.
Four years ago my 58 year old sister was a successful artist. Then because she wanted to boot him out for his addiction, finally, he apparently overdosed her against her will and she went into full blown mania and had to be committed for a few months. She is utterly changed since then. Can’t work, can’t control her rages, doesn’t remember much about her previous life, has lost her once brilliant human insight and logic. She follows you around wherever you go so its hard looking after her, and for years she spoke only of the terrible depression and desire for death. I cared for her six months, my other sister cared for her for over a year. Then she went back to him, and they went to a tiny village very far away. I think she’s started using methamphetamine, as she’s become more aggressive by the day. I feel if I loved her I would go in there with the full cavalry and take her out of that situation. I asked her recently if she’s using and she screamed at me: ‘You can’t save me !’ From time to time I’d like to commit suicide as the pain of seeing her so destroyed is too much.

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Lynn

Iv had a boyfriend for 7 yr he had a crack addiction we have been off anon for the past two years not sexually and he has told me that he’s been with other girls sexually when he gets high I am literally exhausted and I have argued with him I’ve raised my voice I told him I’m the thorn between his rose and rose is the drug he said yes I am heartbroken and I have found myself who played around the house for two days and not been able to function because I am literally exhausted and disgusting over the whole situation and putting up with this for as long as I have not yet know why do I still care

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zane

Hi ,

I am Rose,I have the same experience with u guys.
I had a bf whom I loved the most.He is an addict.He used drugs and he might stop when both has no money which is kind a better?…We both play and gamble in casino.He is a nice person but I just notice one thing ,when he has money he can lie and lie and don’t even bother me.
I am the one who supported him from his food,needs ,bills etc.He is jobless since i met him.BTW we first met at gambling area…
When I have extra we both gamble.I noticed he lied many times about his winnings?Got one time he won and I asked him he said he won 100 dollars only.When he went out people are talking he won actually 600 dollars.Why he needs to lie?That made me realised that he wont change no matter what good I do for him.I texted him to pack his stuff and leave.Now we are not commucating at all for 7 days.I just pray he will love himself back.Its not yet too late to change for good.

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One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
We're having a sale! For a limited time, books and plushies are 25% off. 

Because sales are the best, and Christmas is the best, and helping kiddos find their brave is the very best of all! So, to celebrate the end of the year (because truly, it's been a year hasn't it), and to help you settle brave hearts for next year, or night times, or separations, or, you know, all the things, we're taking 25% off books and plushies in the Hey Sigmund shop.

There's no need to enter a code. The books and bundles are already marked with their special sale prices. You'll find them all there - plushies, books, bundles - doing shopping cartwheels, beside themselves excited about helping your young ones feel bigger than anxiety, and shimmy on to brave. 
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It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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#heywarrior #parenting #bravekids #anxietyinkids #kidsanxiety #parent #parenthood
Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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